Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Syncretism and Pluralism

"Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals." (Judges 2:11).

No one is conceived in the womb as a Christian. All of us start out with our old Adamic nature under the judgment of God. It is necessary for salvation that each person be born again at some point in his or her life. Some people are born again by the action of the Holy Spirit so early in life that they cannot remember it—John the Baptist was born again before he exited the womb (Luke 1:41, 44). 

But whenever it happens, it must happen to each person individually. What this fact means for the history of a culture is that each generation must decide for itself to follow Christ or reject Him.

The generation Moses raised up in the wilderness was faithful to God and they continued faithful all the days of Joshua. The next generation, however, chose not to follow in their parents’ footsteps but departed from the ways of the Lord. They committed the fundamental sin that underlies all other sins: idolatry.

Idolatry means treating something that is not God as if it were. It means orienting your life around an ultimate concern that is not the true God who made heaven and earth. Idolatry can take the visible form of bowing down to images made with hands. It can also take the invisible form of addiction to the things of this world, or of loyalty to a set of false ideological concepts.

The Israelites did not completely abandon the outward worship of the Lord. Rather, they kept giving lip service to the central sanctuary while they paid homage to the Baals and Asherah poles in the groves and high places. This mixture of true religion with false is called “syncretism.” Syncretism is smorgasbord religion, combining a little of this with a little of that while calling itself orthodox.

“Pluralism” is modern syncretism. Pluralism rejects the idea that our culture should be based exclusively on fundamental Christian principles, while at most tolerating other religions. Pluralism is an ideology that says there is no such thing as absolute truth. It is basically a denial of monotheism, rejecting the claims of the one true God. In our idolatrous society, the greatest offense is to insist that there is only one true faith.

At what point does toleration of other religions within the culture become an open embrace of their philosophical teachings? Evaluate your own personal belief system to determine if you have crossed this line. Think this through as it applies to your local church.